Open Thread: Welfare Ranchers Get No Respect

There’s never a FREEDUMB-loving billionaire around when you really need one…

Any of our BundyBund-addicted lawyers (or others) want to weigh in on the chance that Koch beneficiary and “snake oil salesman” Ken Ivory might finally have skirted one government regulation too many here? Who’s got standing to address this?



Late Night Creepshow Open Thread: Nothing Says FREEDUMB Like Locking People Up

Would-be seditionist and “GOP manly man” (note new Lincoln-esque beard) Senator Tom Cotton is outraged, outraged!

… He described efforts to restore voting rights to felons as a partisan tactic to drive up Democratic turnout and make it easier for people to find jobs after they exit prison. At one point, he directly accused such policies of creating higher rates of crime.

There are 2.3 million Americans in jails, prisons, and juvenile corrections facilities today. Nearly one half of all American children have at least one parent with a criminal record, which makes it prohibitively difficult to even get a job interview let alone find employment.

America is by far the world’s leading jailer, with less than 5 percent of the planet’s population but more than 20 percent of its prison population. Half of all the countries in the world imprison fewer than 150 out of every 100,000 citizens. The U.S. puts 716 out of every 100,000 Americans is in prison — compared to 475 in Russia, 294 in South Africa, 274 in Brazil, 132 in Malaysia, and 80 in Egypt…

It may be tempting to dismiss Cotton as an unserious figure. But his backward approach to criminal justice is already having a tangible influence on the still-young bipartisan movement to walk back years of self-defeating policy crafted in the heyday of Tough On Crime politics…

My emphasis. Imagine the horror, says the bought & paid for Kochsucker, of making it easier for former felons to get jobs, i.e., removing them from the prison-industrial complex that siphons so much money to the right (Right) pockets. And they’d probably use their new freedoms to vote wrong, too.



Late Night Open Thread: No Thanks, Mr. Koch

Former College Republican & current ABC News shill Jon Karl got himself an invite to Charles Koch’s sanctum sanctorum, and he could not be more impressed:

Charles Koch says he won’t “put a penny” into trying to stop Donald Trump, that there are “terrible role models” among the remaining Republican presidential candidates, and that his massive political network may decide to sit out of the presidential race entirely.

“These personal attacks and pitting one person against the other — that’s the message you’re sending the country,” Koch said in an exclusive interview with ABC News that aired Sunday. “You’re role models and you’re terrible role models. So how — I don’t know how we could support ’em.”…

“We haven’t put a penny in any of these campaigns, pro or con,” Koch said. “That’s not what we do. What we’re trying to do is build alliances to make the country better.”

Instead Koch said he and his brother plan to stay out of the party’s nomination fight…

Koch went so far as to say the GOP nightmare of another Clinton presidency might be a better alternative to the remaining Republican candidates at this point.

“It’s possible,” he said…

You can watch more of the interview at the link, but it’s basically 75% arse-covering (not our fault! you can’t prove one cent came from us!) and 25% complaining that you just can’t buy good help any more (seventeen GOP candidates and not one worth a bucket of warm spit!). That parvenu Trump is sucking up all the attention, Ted Cruz couldn’t sell meat to a hungry dog, and some pissant casino mogul is getting more attention than True American Heartland Job Creators(tm) like you-know-who. And despite what Dick Cheney might think, there’s still no cure for mortality…
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Late Night Open Thread: Have the Kochs Chickened Out?

Or — parsimonious businessmen that they are — do they just figure Trump’s doing their job this election cycle?

From the Reuters article:

… The decision by the billionaire industrialists is another setback to Republican establishment efforts to derail the New York real estate mogul’s bid for the White House, and follows speculation the Kochs would soon launch a “Trump Intervention.”…

Three sources close to the Kochs said the brothers made the decision because they were concerned that spending millions of dollars attacking Trump would be money wasted, since they had not yet seen any attack on Trump stick.

The Koch brothers are also smarting from the millions of dollars they pumped into the failed 2012 Republican presidential bids of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, the sources said…



Excellent Read: “Rebranding the Koch Brothers”

I’ve got a copy of Dark Money on order, but meanwhile, Mayer’s article in the January 25th issue of the New Yorker is well worth reading, even if you have to go find a print copy:

On the night of November 2nd, well-dressed Wichita residents formed a line that snaked through the lobby of the city’s convention center. They all held tickets to the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce’s annual gala, which had drawn thirty-five hundred people. The evening’s featured speaker, Charles Koch, had lived in town almost all of his eighty years, but few locals—even prominent ones—had ever laid eyes on him. Charles, along with his brother David, owns virtually all of the energy-and-chemical conglomerate Koch Industries, which is based in Wichita and has annual revenues of a hundred and fifteen billion dollars. Charles’s secretive manner, right-wing views, and concerted campaign to exert political influence by spending his fortune have made him an object of fascination, especially in his home town. “You never see him,” one local newsman whispered. “He hates publicity.” He paused. “Please don’t quote me on that!”…

Charles shared the stage with Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, the co-hosts of the MSNBC cable show “Morning Joe,” whom Koch Industries had chosen to serve as moderators. The audience laughed as Koch recalled such boyhood misadventures as his expulsion from military school. He amiably described early business mistakes, and he pointedly criticized Republicans as well as Democrats…

Starting in 2010, a controversial series of rulings by the federal judiciary and the Supreme Court essentially licensed unlimited political spending by corporations, unions, and individuals. Charles and David—a seventy-five-year-old patron of the arts, who is the wealthiest resident of Manhattan—were unusually prepared to take advantage of this shift. They had set up a broad alliance of donors and advocacy organizations to support conservative candidates who share their “pro-business” opposition to regulation, entitlements, and taxes. This network has since become one of the most powerful political forces in the country: a libertarian advocacy group backed by the brothers, Americans for Prosperity, has directors in thirty-four states. According to Politico, twelve hundred people work full-time for the Koch network—more than three times the number of people who work for the Republican National Committee.

A new, data-filled study by the Harvard scholars Theda Skocpol and Alexander Hertel-Fernandez reports that the Kochs have established centralized command of a “nationally-federated, full-service, ideologically focused” machine that “operates on the scale of a national U.S. political party.” The Koch network, they conclude, acts like a “force field,” pulling Republican candidates and office-holders further to the right. Last week, the Times reported that funds from the Koch network are fuelling both ongoing rebellions against government control of Western land and the legal challenge to labor unions that is before the Supreme Court…

***********
The Kochs’ strategy began to change after the last Presidential election. Having spent so much money trying to defeat Obama, they were stunned when he was reëlected. As late as Election Day, their political advisers were assuring them that Mitt Romney had secured the Presidency. The 2012 defeat led the Kochs and their advisers into an intense period of review. Most of the postmortem took place in private, but in March, 2013, a clue to the Kochs’ line of thinking was offered by Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute. In a speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Brooks, who frequently attends the Kochs’ political retreats, offered a diagnosis of what had gone wrong in 2012.

Brooks told the audience that a single statistic explained why conservatives had lost. In polls, he said, only a third of respondents agreed that Republicans “cared about people like” them. And fewer than half of Americans believed that Republicans cared about the poor. Conservatives had an empathy problem. This was important, Brooks explained, because Americans almost universally believed that “fairness matters.” He went on, “I know it makes you sick to think of that word, ‘fairness.’ ” But Americans, he said, overwhelmingly believed that “it’s right to help the vulnerable.”… Read more



Open Thread: Real-World Impact!

National Review‘s latest standing athwart history yelling stop” effort has been a feast of gleeful schadenfreude across the political spectrum. But now Ye Editors can claim their fearfulsome efforts had an actual real-world effect, at least on their publication:

Curated selection of NR/Trump abuse below the break, because honestly, could you resist?

Read more



The Malheur “Rebellion”, Beyond the Snark

As of this evening, Bundy and his merry men are refusing to go away quietly, per the Huffington Post:

The leader of a group of armed protesters occupying the headquarters of a U.S. wildlife refuge in rural southeastern Oregon on Thursday rejected a sheriff’s offer of passage out of the state to end the standoff.

During a meeting at a neutral site, Harney County Sheriff David Ward offered to escort Ammon Bundy and his group of occupiers out of Oregon, but Bundy declined…

Following the brief meeting, Bundy told reporters that he would consider Ward’s position, but the sheriff had not addressed their grievances. “We always consider what people say,” Bundy said.

The takeover that began on Saturday at the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, about 30 miles (48 km) south of the small town of Burns, is the latest incident in the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion, a decades-old conflict over federal control of land and resources in the U.S. West…

Federal law enforcement agents and local police have so far kept away from the occupied site, maintaining little visible presence outside the park in a bid to avoid the deadly violence that erupted during conflicts with militants in Idaho and Texas in the 1990s…

Harpers, despite its staunch no-freebies policy, has unlocked a report on the long venal history behind that “Sagebrush Rebellion” grift — “The Great Republican Land Heist”:

… In 1885, William A. J. Sparks, the commissioner of the General Land Office, reported to Congress that “unscrupulous speculation” had resulted in “the worst forms of land monopoly . . . throughout regions dominated by cattle-raising interests.” West of the hundredth meridian, cattle barons had enclosed the best forage along with scarce supplies of water in an arid landscape. They falsified titles using the signatures of cowhands and family members, employed fictitious identities to stake claims, and faked improvements on the land to appear to comply with the law. “Probably most private range land in the western states,” a historian of the industry concluded, “was originally obtained by various degrees of fraud.”…

This culture passed seamlessly to the Bureau of Land Management, which was created out of a merger between the Grazing Service and the General Land Office, in 1946. That same year, members of the American National Livestock Association met in Salt Lake City to discuss how best to undermine what few regulations had been placed on them. The Taylor Grazing Act had made grazing permits revocable. The livestock-permit holders wanted this provision overturned, for obvious reasons. But the stockmen’s ambition went further: they wanted the federal government to transfer control of all federal land, including the national parks, to the states…

One could write a postwar history of the West as a chronology of ranchers’ resistance to federal regulation, and the center of resistance has always been Nevada. In 1979, following the passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which for the first time mandated environmental protection of territory controlled by the BLM, cattlemen pushed a law through the Nevada state legislature declaring that federal public lands were now the property of the state. They called it the Sagebrush Rebellion Act. The cattle barons styled themselves “sagebrush rebels,” and engaged in acts of defiance against the BLM, opening dirt tracks onto grazing allotments that had been closed, bulldozing new roads, overstocking their allotments, violating permit agreements, and refusing to pay grazing fees. As the rebellion spread, a conservative interest group called the American Legislative Exchange Council joined the fight. ALEC was founded in 1973 to craft “model legislation” for state governments; it brought together conservative state legislators and industry representatives in closed-door sessions. Copycat Sagebrush Rebellion Acts were passed in Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, and New Mexico…

The ALEC agenda has also found its way back to Congress. The vehicle has been the Republican leadership in the House Committee on Natural Resources, which controls the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation. The bills proposed in the most recent congressional session speak for themselves. The State-Run Federal Lands Act, sponsored by Representative Don Young, a former ALEC member from Alaska, authorizes federal-land managers to “enter into a cooperative agreement for state management of such federal land located in the state.” The Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act, sponsored by Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, directs the secretary of the interior to “offer for disposal by competitive sale certain federal lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.” With Republicans now in control of both the House and the Senate, these bills have a good chance of passing…

The wholesale transfer of public lands to state control may never be achieved. But the goal might be more subtle: to attack the value of public lands, to reduce their worth in the public eye, to diminish and defund the institutions that protect the land, and to neuter enforcement. Bernard DeVoto observed in the 1940s that no rancher in his right mind wanted to own the public lands himself. That would entail responsibility and stewardship. Worse, it would mean paying property taxes. What ranchers have always wanted, and what extractive industries in general want, is private exploitation with costs paid by the public…

Mother Jones has a short profile of one of the most enthusiastic legislative figureheads for the billionaires’ land grab:

As a young man, Ken Ivory served as a Mormon missionary in Guatemala. These days, he’s still looking for converts. Ivory, a Republican state representative from a Salt Lake City suburb, has spent the past three years traveling the American West to convince state and local officials that they can claim millions of acres of federal land to use as they wish…

… Ivory’s concept has caught on beyond the militia types who are demanding that the feds give up control of their holdings such as the eastern Oregon wildlife refuge currently held by armed occupiers. The Republican National Committee has endorsed the idea of turning over federal land to the states, and in March, the Senate passed a budget amendment sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would create a fund for selling or transferring the land. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has set forth a proposal that the federal government cannot own more than half the land in any state. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has also endorsed state or private control of federal land… Read more